Category Archives: Written by West Papua Media

66 arrested, thousands rally for release of gaoled French journos, defying Police crackdown on calls to respect press freedom

By the West Papua Media team and local stringers,

with additional reporting from Tabloid Jubi and MajalahSelengkah

October 14, 2014

66 West Papuan activists were arrested by Indonesian Police in Jayapura and Merauke, Papua on Monday, as rallies calling for respect of press freedom and the release of two French journalists who continue to be imprisoned without charge, attracted thousands of people across Papua and Indonesia.

Indonesian police had prohibited the rallies in Jayapura and Merauke on the pretext that rally organisers the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat or KNPB) is an incorrectly registered organization, and that demonstrators may use the constitutionally legal but police banned Morning Star flag on banners, posters and paraphernalia.

Arrested by Indonesian police in Wamena on August 6 and 7, Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat remain in immigration detention awaiting trial, with their detention repeatedly extended in an unprecedented case – which usually results in a simple deportation.

Indonesian police finally announced on October 14 that the two journalists would be facing trial on October 20, on immigration charges of “misusing a visa”, a mere 70 days after their initial arrest with a local school teacher Areki Wanimbo, two farmers and human rights defender in Wamena.

The trial will begin on the Inauguration day of new Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, in a move clearly seen by most Papuan observers to be a direct challenge by colonial status-quo forces in Papua to the stated plans of Jokowi, to end the ban on foreign Press to report from Papua without restriction.

The plight of the two journalists has elicited record levels of support amongst Papuan civil society, in solidarity against the arrest of journalists carrying out their legitimate professional tasks.

The rallies planned to highlight the widely held view that the continued imprisonment of journalists seeking to report West Papua parallels with the criminalization of Papuan people’s right to Freedom of Expression, by Indonesian occupation forces.

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Photos of rallies around Papua (Photo credits: KNPB, Ones Suhun WPM, and Majalah Selengkah

Many thousands of people openly defied the police ban, and attended rallies and marches in Timika, Nabire, Sorong, FakFak, Manokwari and remote Yahukimo held in solidarity with the detained journalists, and scores of fixers, human rights defenders and ordinary civilian sources that have been caught up in an unprecedented crackdown on the rights of Papuan people to speak with foreign journalists.

The rallies in Manokwari and Sorong were broken up forcibly by heavily armed riot police, however no injuries or arrests were reported in those centres.

In Java, members of the Papuan Students Alliance (Aliansi Mahasiswa Papua or AMP) in Surabaya, Jogjakarta and Bandung were joined at rallies by Indonesian civil society members.  Despite being under close surveillance by Police, the Java based rallies allowed to proceed unhindered, highlighting the disparity in rights to Freedom of Expression between Indonesia and its occupied colony of West Papua.

26 KNPB activists were arrested at dawn in Merauke prior to the rally, as they gathered on the steps of the local Immigration office making speeches, and were forcibly dispersed and arrested by heavily armed riot police. Police later arrested another 20 at the KNPB office in Merauke, according to Tabloid Jubi.

In Jayapura, activists were outnumbered by heavily armed police, which intimidated many supporters into waiting at the sidelines of the area. KNPB activists regardless pushed on with a peaceful demonstration at Imbi park in Jayapura.

The 17 KNPB activists held a moving but silent vigil symbolising the absence of free media and freedom of speech in Papua. Jayapura Chairman of KNPB Agus Kosay told West Papua Media “we chose a silent action, silenced with a black cloth, because Indonesia silences democracy in Papua”

Police then moved in and arrested all 17, who are still being held by Police at time of writing.

“We want to let the world see, (Indonesia says it is) a democracy but the democracy practised is in fact anti-democratic for Papua,” Kosay explained.

No Full Name Gender Occupation
1 Agus Kosay Male Chief KNPB Central
2 Bazoka Logo Male Spokesperson KNPB
3 Elieser Anggaingom Male Member
4 Regi Wenda Female Member
5 Ribka Komba Female Member
6 Jimi Boroay Male Member
7 Marice Mambrasar Female Member
8 Lazkar Zama Male Member
9 Isak Silak Male Student
10 Petrus Petege Male Student
11 Palina Pakage Wanita Member
12 Marten Suhun Male Member
13 Manu Moi Male Student
14 David Walilo Male Member
15 Deren Sorabut Male Member
16 Wilem Wandik Male Member
17 Tinus Heluka Male Member

Indonesian Police have regularly changed their at-times-wild allegations that Bourrat and Dandois – who openly admitted they were operating in West Papua without a highly restrictive and rarely granted Journalism Visa and reporting permit for West Papua – have variously been involved in subversion, illegal arms transfers, espionage, supporting armed groups, and part of a foreign conspiracy to undermine Indonesia. Despite the public slander campaigns in the media by the colonial Police forces in Papua, the final charge of “misuse of a visa” is clearly a backdown, at the same time as it is handing a gauntlet to the new administration of President Widodo.

An international campaign led by Paris-based Reporters without Borders has also called on Indonesia to immediately release the pair, saying they were engaged in nothing more that independent, legitimate journalism activities.   A petition launched by Reporters Without Borders and the Bourrat and Dandois support committee has been signed by more than 8,000 people worldwide.

Reporters Without Borders via a press release on October 15 “appeals to the Indonesian justice system, now responsible for their continuing detention, to release the two journalists and dismiss all charges.”

“Reporters Without Borders again calls for a display of leniency by the authorities in this case. Indonesia cannot pride itself on being the world’s third biggest democracy without respecting fundamental freedoms and human rights,” it said.

The Paris-based media safety organisation also highlighted Indonesia’s obligations to Press Freedom, by noting “As one of the latest countries to sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in 2006, Indonesia cannot ignore the UN Human Rights Committee’s General Comment No. 34, adopted in 2011.  This comment says that it is breach of the covenant to “restrict freedom of movement of journalists and human rights investigators within the state party (including to conflict-affected locations, the sites of natural disasters and locations where there are allegations of human rights abuses).”

West Papua Media network members have also been caught up in the Indonesian police and army crackdown since the arrest of Bourrat and Dadois, including several local personnel who have been subjected to repeated death threats from Indonesian intelligence agencies.   Over 24 of our network members were under various degrees of security threats within West Papua, with family members threatened for speaking with the French journalists.  West Papua Media had been providing legitimate journalistic fixing services to Bourrat and Dandois for interviews with civil society figures outside of the Highlands.  Protection measures have now been put in place, enabling network members to return to newsgathering tasks over the last week, after having operations and reportage severely curtailed by serious security threats and incidents.

Physical threats and active surveillance to WPM personnel were also extended to key members of it editorial staff in Australia, with Indonesian Police Spokesman Sulistyo Pudjo saying that WPM Editor Nick Chesterfield was also to be charged with Espionage and subversion, and would be seeking and attempting extradition to Indonesia.   West Papua Media is still exploring legal options against the Indonesian police for defamation and stalking by sending its agents to carry out illegal activities on Australian soil.

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Evidence of death squads emerge after Youtefa market riot sparked by corrupt police shakedown of gamblers

In-depth Investigation from West Papua Media team, our stringers in Jayapura and local sources

July 15, 2014

  • Riot erupted after corrupt Police attempt shakedown of gambling den
  • Weapons seized from police by gangsters, who have mysteriously “disappeared”
  • Three dead civilians had nothing to do with gambling: witnesses
  • Three dead civilians allegedly targeted by security forces because of Yali tribal membership.
  • Another story of savagery from Indonesian security forces

Evidence has emerged of a savage and potentially premeditated hunt of highland students by Indonesian security forces in Abepura on July 2 after the stabbing death of a police officer sparked an allegedly brutal dispersal of civilians by security forces. Three civilians and an Indonesian police officer were killed around the Youtefa market in Abepura after a failed attempt at a shakedown by corrupt police on a gambling ring degenerated into a riot.

Full transparency of the events leading to the riot and behaviour by police in bringing it under control has been hard to verify, however eyewitness testimony gathered by West Papua Media (WPM) stringers have yielded new information that alleges death squads were operating simultaneously to the riot, targeting three students from a single tribal group who were uninvolved with the riot.

Over twenty innocent people were also taken into custody on July 2, after hundreds of uniformed and plainclothes security forces arrested civilians and beat bystanders, Papuan shoppers and particularly civilians from the Highlands, with many sustaining injuries, after unidentified persons in the crowd of gamblers earlier attacked and fatally stabbed the Indonesian police officer, and beat up his partner.

Eyewitness evidence has also confirmed that three young Yali men, Demi Kepno, Sabusek Kabak, and Yenias Wandikbo were beaten and killed well away from the riot and dispersal, by plain clothes police and Kopassus special forces soldiers. This is despite clear evidence that none of the victims were involved in either the gambling, or the subsequent riot.

The violence had its immediate roots in a daily illegal game of dice (Judi Dadu) played in an Indonesian gangster (preman) run gambling den at Pasar Youtefa, by a mixed crowd of over 100 Papuan and Indonesian colonist gamblers.  According to witnesses interviewed by a West Papua Media stringer, the dice gambling rings are part of an informal industry that served to provide daily living income for its organisers, but was usually tolerated by local police in return for a cut of proceedings to supplement their police salary.

Indonesian military and police have a long history of running highly lucrative illegal gambling operations on everything from raffles to chicken, dog and human fighting, to premiere movie tickets. Gamblers and street thugs lured to the easy money are often recruited as the muscle behind preman organisation Pemuda Pancasila, a Kopassus proxy militia front that had thrown its weight behind the Prabowo Presidential Election campaign,  casting a dark shadow of fear over Papua over recent weeks.

Just after 3.30pm local time on July 2, Police Brigadiers (equivalent to Chief Sergeant) Asriadi and Samsul Huda from Abepura’s Tanah Hitam motorcycle unit, were conducting their allegedly corrupt daily shakedown rounds to demand protection money (tax) from stallholders when they arrived at the Judi venue. It is still unknown why the officers decided to shakedown this particular venue given that preman and police usually have a sophisticated and lucrative system of payoffs.

Gamblers reported that the two police officers walked into the venue without paying admission, angering the Indonesian colonist doorman, whereupon the police drew weapons and demanded that all present (including Papuan and colonist spectators) pay a flat rate “tax” to the police.

Witnesses claimed that the two officers and a customer began arguing after some gamblers refuse to hand over any money, saying they were tired of being shaken down. One witness claimed that the “preman” (gangster) manager of the venue pushed the police officer, complaining that protection money had already been paid to a higher ranking officer, and the shakedown would be reported. The officer Asriadi then smacked another gambler, the relatives of whom retaliated by seizing his rifle and throwing chairs, bottles and other objects at the fleeing officers. None of these claims could be independently verified by WPM.

Unverified reports also claim that all the gamblers, both Papuan and Indonesian, then chased the officers through the markets.  An Indonesian colonist trader named Herman told the Jakarta Post that Brig Asriadi tripped, and “was mobbed and stabbed by the gamblers.”

Claims that the rioters had stoned the officers to death remain unverified and only alleged by Indonesian colonist traders. No Papuan witnesses could be found to confirm the claims independently of the official police version.

The commotion and cries for help from the bashed police were immediately responded to by over a hundred armed police, Brimob and members of the Australian trained counter-terror squad Detachment 88, according to witnesses who described how large groups of armed men came running from every direction within seconds of the initial chase. They in turn were joined by over 50 plain clothes intelligence, police and military, including scores of Kopassus ojek riders, in seizing and beating large groups of civilians randomly, including traders and shoppers.

Reports remain unconfirmed whether security forces opened fire directly on bystanders at the markets or fired into the air, but many gunshots were heard by various witnesses, causing Papuan civilians to flee from the area. Nine Papuan gamblers were taken into custody as suspects, however the perpetrators of the fatal beating and those who had seized weapons were allowed to escape by security forces. In addition, police and plain clothes agents arrested a further 14 Papuan bystanders, who were uninvolved in the affray. All apart from the nine were released by police late that night, most having sustained injuries from their beatings. The status of the nine Papuan gamblers who were undergoing interrogation through to the weekend were unable to be ascertained at time of writing.

The violence occurred as Papuans in Jayapura were on edge, as arbitrary arrests, shootings and unprovoked beatings on civilians by security forces intensified ahead of the July 9 Indonesian presidential election. Many Papuan civil society and pro-independence groups joined a boycott call challenging the legitimacy of Indonesia’s colonial regime. The boycott was met with calls from the Indonesian military commander in Papua, Maj-General Christian Zebua, to “shoot dead any person” distributing election boycott materials – a threat which had materialised throughout the Land of Papua.

Arbitrary murders

The deaths of the three young Papuan students, at a time when Indonesian police are almost exclusively targeting Yali student and civil resistance activists (who make up the bulk of the membership of the West Papua National Committee) in a nationwide crackdown on freedom of expression, will only reinforce perceptions of a premeditated Indonesian security force campaign to eradicate Papua of Yali people. “The TNI hate the Yali with a passion, as this is the tribe that Benny Wenda is from,” an observer told WPM during the investigation, referring to the high profile UK-based leader of the Free West Papua Campaign.

Certainly members of the families of the dead agree that their dead children and brothers are being unfairly targeted.

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Sabusek Kabak (24) was a university student from the Yali village of Porongkoli in Yahukimo Papua. He passed through the Youtefa market at 8.00am from the Kilometre 9 post at Koya and continued on to the GKI Church students Hostel Liborang in Padang Bulan.

According to interviews with his younger brother Wemen, friends and witnesses, at 3.30pm on July 2 Sabusek went again to Youtefa, planning to return to Kilo 9 with Wemen.  After arriving at the Youtefa market he and his younger sibling didn’t have enough money to pay for the taxi back to Koya and went to look for a friend to borrow some money for their transport home.

As they were looking for taxi money, the riot broke out at the market. Some ran and there was the sound of gunfire, but Sabusek and Wemen were confused. Sabusek and Wemen agreed to go together and seek protection  at the Bank of Papua at the Youtefa market, without realising that there were “preman” plainclothed police manning a roadblock outside the bank.

They were then confronted and surrounded by the preman who were armed with sharp knives, machetes, and pistols, when Sabusek pushed his young brother behind him and told him to escape.   A transmigrant trader hid Wemen in their kiosk, however the preman police caught up and stabbed Sabusek with a bayonet through the heart, killing him instantly. Wemen and the trader witnessed the killing, as the preman walked away and left Sabusek’s body there. A woman from Biak, unknown to Wemen, told the migrant who had helped Wemen escape, “That is my child. Come my dear child let’s go home”. She then took Wemen to the protection of a Church hostel.

Sabusek’s body was not picked up by Police until the morning of 3 July 2014 by Police, who took his body to the Bhayangkara Hospital. The Kabak family were initially prevented from retrieving Sabusek’s body, and were forced to return with the Abepura Police Chief and District Head so the family could take the body. He was buried on 4 July 2014 at the public cemetery in Tanah Hitam, Abepura at 3.00pm by his family.

The Kabak family have demanded that the Papuan Police be held accountable for Sabusek Kabak’s death, and that there be an immediate arrest of those responsible and they face the process of law in the immediate future.

Unprovoked Savagery

Neither was the second victim involved in any form of opposition action against the police, yet he was savagely beaten until dead. Before the riot at the Youtefa market started, Yenias Wandikbo, a 20 year old Yali student, had been drinking alcohol together and relaxing with a friend during that day at the Engros Beach, until they ran out of drink in the early afternoon. Yenias and his friend then headed home from Engros via to the Youtefa market. In going there they reached the front of the YAMAS campus still unaware that there was a problem at the market, where they separated because of the everyday threat posed by security forces when buying alcohol. Yenias stumbled upon the riot area and straight into an ambush of plainclothes Indonesian preman – believed to be Kopassus soldiers by witnesses due to the impunity in which they moved. These preman then caught, beat and killed Yenias, witnessed by many in broad daylight less than one hundred metres away from the Youtefa market.

Yenias was beaten about the head with such extreme force that his brow, nose area, and rear of his skull was split apart. After Yenias was killed, his body was taken by the police to the Bhayangkara Hospital, where it was held until 3.20pm on July 4. Yenias’ family took him home to Nayak Hostel in Abepura, in order to transport his body to be taken back to Wamena.

Extrajudicial Execution

Demi Kepno, a 24 year old Engineering Student of Yali origin from Abenah District, Yalimo, was killed after being abducted by police in Abepura, at the same instance as the gambling ring was being broken up in Youtefa market, but some distance away from the market.

As with the two other victims, When Demi Kepno, together with several friends heard about the incident at the old market, they avoided returning to their homes. Demi was called by his girlfriend  – who it emerged was working as an intelligence agent – who wanted to meet with him, and he went to meet her in front of the Multi Crosir supermarket. Demi’s girlfriend ordered him to get in a black Avanza vehicle, without any idea he was getting in a car with plainclothes security forces

Demi was brought to the Yanmor Police station in Tanah Hitam just above Abepura, where he was interrogated by fully armed anti-terror police.  He managed to escape from the Police station, fleeing in the direction of Tanah Hitam Mountain. The police and plainclothes agents gave chase and Demi entered a house of a Butonese migrant, which was surrounded and searched by police, cornering Demi around 5.15pm local time, according to witnesses interviewed by WPM’s stringer.  Demi allegedly picked up a beam of wood in self-defence as police opened fire on him, hitting him in the abdomen. However, the gunshots did not kill him, so the plainclothes agents were seen to repeatedly stab Demi in the chest and neck with a bayonet, until he was dead.

His body was taken to the Bhayangkara Hospital, and the victim’s family took the body away at 4.35pm the following day to the family home at Tanah Hitam, and was buried in Abepura at the public cemetery on 5 July 2014.

Indonesian police in Abepura and Jayapura refused several attempts by WPM to provide a response to these allegations.

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Moenemani braces for security sweeps as Brimob shoot 3 relatives of 2 Dogiyai crash victims.

By West Papua Media, with additional reporting from Tabloid Jubi

May 8, 2014

Villagers were again last night bracing for a new round of Indonesian state violence in the town of Moenemani, in the gold rich Dogiyai district in Paniai, as Indonesian Brimob paramilitary police units were reportedly conducting security sweeps after a series of tragic events left three people dead and three more fighting for their lives.

Latest reports from Paniai from credible sources, priests and human rights defenders are noting that large numbers of security forces from Brimob, Army, Kopassus Special forces, BIN (National Intelligence) and Air Force Kopaska special air commandos are being drafted in to form a special task force to “secure” Moenemani.  Local sources have reported that the situation remains highly tense right across Dogiyai after an unconfirmed report of a reprisal killing of an Indonesian colonist caused a major crisis meeting at the local Koramil (military command).

Brimob police opened fire on a crowd on Tuesday May 6, critically wounding three civilians, who gathered to seek accountability for two teenagers killed when a truck driver ploughed through a group of church pilgrims.

According to a detailed chronology written by local human rights investigators with the KINGMI church, around 6.40pm local time on May 5, Jhon Anouw and Yunsens Kegakoto, both aged 18 years, were returning on motorbikes from a religious residency at the local KINGMI church.

A truck with the number plate DS 9903 was “racing” through the streets, according to witness Benny Goo (as interviewed by SuaraPapua.com), and lost control, hitting the two teenagers outside the Papuan People’s Regional Assembly office, killing them instantly with massive injuries to their bodies.

As residents found the two victims and took them to a local funeral home to lie in state according to local custom, the truck driver had fled the scene and sought shelter at the Moanemani Brimob post in the town, according to witnesses.

The next morning, villagers and relatives began to gather at outside the Police station to demand that police release the driver in order to amicably settle the matter according to custom, and investigate the traffic accident.   Brimob officers refused, and local villagers responded by throwing stones on the roof of the Police post.

At 10am, Brimob officers emerged from the police post, firing directly at the gathered crowd without issuing any warning to disperse.  Three men were shot, Anthon Edowai, 32, Yulius Anouw, 27, and Gayus (Sepnat) Auwe, 32, and all are now in a critical condition, undergoing surgery in the Siriwini hospital in Nabire.

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All images credited JPIC/WestPapuaMedia

Tabloid Jubi confirmed the incident with Papua Police Deputy Chief Brigadier General Paulus Waterpauw, who commented. “I’ve got a preliminary report. Currently the case is being under the jurisdiction of the Paniai Police and the Kamuu Valley Police.”
Waterpauw said the situation on the ground was sometimes difficult, but urged police officers to act in accordance with the Standard Operations Procedure. “We will ensure the completion of this report,” he told Jubi.

However Brimob and the Indonesian Army have a history of extreme unprovoked violence and impunity in Moenamani against civilians, including a notorious campaign of terror in 2013 where people were forced to shave their beards and dreadlocks and traditional music was banned, and the extrajudicial execution of five civilians who were holding a card game.

Previous offensives in the  Paniai since December 2011 have displaced tens of thousands of civilians, and burnt down hundreds of villages.

A Kingmi priest with family in the area told West Papua Media on Wednesday night, “Dogiyai is in a very heated situation and emergency (sic). There will probably be further victims.  Let us take concern of the behaviour of the security forces towards civil society in Moanemani.”

Allegation are circulating that a reprisal killing occurred on a non-Papuan civilian at 1230pm after the shooting, however several credible sources cannot independently confirm this to West Papua Media, nor if the killing is an OTK (‘unknown persons’ black operation killing).  However these sources have said that alleged killing is the reason that the Special Task Force (Satgas) is being created and deployed across the district.

More information as it comes to hand.

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West Papua Media’s April break from publishing

Editorial Statement

April 19, 2014

West Papua Media has recently taken a month long break from publishing original content.  This has occurred for a variety of reasons, but please rest assured, we will be back on deck in full capacity in the lead up to the May 1 cycle of Papuan resistance to provide necessary and timely coverage of civil resistance and human rights issues.

One part of this break has been due to events beyond human control, such as the presence of Nick Chesterfield, Coordinating Editor, in remote areas in northern Australia for training, cultural and personal reasons, and subsequent inability to travel or access reliable internet  due to being repeatedly caught in the path of a recent category five Cyclone, which cause significant flooding and road damage.

Secondly, WPM’s Editorial team has been working from a skeleton staff since January, due to training and field work commitments, and also sustainability issues faced by every member of our journalism crew – a situation which has forced us to work cash jobs to survive.  This could have been avoided had we received enough recurring donations (subscriptions) to pay our costs, but unfortunately the lack of funding for phone calls for example means we are unable to verify and initiate complex stories to WPM’s high standards.   You can help us increase our capacity in the future by clicking on the big red Donate button at West Papua Media, or if you are sharing on Facebook, by clicking on the link at our mirror URL at http://westpapuamedia.tumblr.com/post/79287889774/donate-to-support-media-freedom-for-west-papua (WPM has had to do this as Facebook is still banning all WPM links due to malicious false reporting by the Indonesian government).  A commitment of a regular donation or subscription is the most useful way you can support us financially.  If you cannot support us financially, we are always looking for folks to donate skills with translations, social media dissemination, and crowdfunding support (to name a few tasks) and would welcome you into the team.

Thirdly, we have been organising some in-depth fixing work for international media which has taken some significant time and effort, but the results will be worth it later in the year.

WPM Editors are also currently continuing in depth investigations into incidents in Yapen, Paniai, the northern PNG border area and the Highland regions, and of course ongoing investigations in other sectors of West Papuan civil society.

Finally, we are also completing consolidation and curriculum development for our Safe Witness Journalism training projects, and about to start testing and some exciting new partnerships with global partners committed to the education and safety of citizen and professional media.  We will keep you posted as these partnership progress.

Of course, our Twitter feed (twitter.com/westpapuamedia) has all the latest breaking news from across the wider WPM network of partners, and will continue to be the first point at which breaking news is posted.

Even when WPM is not publishing, our original partner Tabloid Jubi’s English-language West Papua Daily will provide updates for critical news.  We have a RSS feed on the right hand sidebar of our site.

So, see you back soon!

 

GEMPAR Otsus Plus rejection rally banned, blockaded by Police in Jayapura

News article

from West Papua Media stringers in Jayapura

March 11, 2014

Several hundred students and civil society members led by the Papuan Student Movement (GEMPAR or “Uproar”) holding a peaceful demonstration in Jayapura today were again blockaded by around 200 armed riot Police who imposed a ban on the gathering, after a similar gathering on March 4 drew world attention.

The demonstration was called to show the extent of public opposition to the proposed new Special Autonomy “Plus” (Otsus Plus) legislation due to be imposed on Papua and West Papua provinces later in 2014.

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Scenes from Gempar rally rejecting OtsusPlus, Jayapura, March 11, 2014 (Photo: WestPapuaMedia/NareYare and Sauri Bounas. Please contact WPM before outside non-commercial use of any of these images for exact crediting)

Despite having rights of freedom of expression guaranteed under Special Autonomy legislation, large numbers of  Indonesian occupation force Police banned the gathering and prevented students from leaving the Cenderawasih Universtiy (UNCEN) grounds.  Scores of police were also on hand at other GEMPAR rallying points, at the new UNCEN gate, the old archway entrance to UNCEN, campus dormitories, and also outside the main Post Office in Abepura.

Police prevented unarmed civil society participants from joining the rally according to witnesses, and blockaded several groups of Papuan civilians across Abepura and Jayapura with scores of riot police in full armour, several ranks of heavily armed Brimob commandos from the Sabhara Perintis and Gegana anti-terror units, including several members of the Australian funded Detachment 88 counter-terror unit, backed up by over a hundred plain clothes armed intelligence agents dispersed throughout the town.

The Jayapura Police Chief, Alfred Papare, had banned the rally due to a highly restrictive set of conditions and threatened to use for against the protesters, however negotiation ensured that the day remain without violence, despite intelligence agents menacing violence.  West Papua Media (WPM) stringers reported and photographed several instances where media workers were being filmed and identified by intelligence officers and police.

Jayapura Police chief Papare demonstrated his opposition to democratic rights in Papua by providing a letter that outlined ten reasons for the rally ban, saying:

    • that GEMPAR is not an approved organisation in the eyes of POlice;
    • it didn’t pre-approve all pamphlets and banners with police beforehand
    • it refused to name individual organisers and speakers at the action;
    • did not provide Police with crowd numbers, nor get traffic clearance
    • Police would not recognise the local time zone of WPB, as it considers observance of local time as an act of separatism.  Indonesia only recognises time zones as WIB ( Western Indonesian Time), CET/WITA ( Central Indonesian Time ) and WIT/EST ( Eastern Indonesia Time)
    • That previous rallies caused traffic jams;
    • Gempar Chairman Yason Ngelia had previous shouted slogans and made speeches against government policy and the state, and was therefore allegedly “spreading hatred against Indonesia”
    • That all acts of free expression, collective action, mass rallies and peaceful protest were banned “To maintain the internal security situation conducive to smotth implementation of the democratic  legislative elections and the 2014 presidential election in the city of Jayapura” as that “could destabilise internal security.”

West Papua Media journalist Nare Yare (pseudonym) reports that despite these bans, students were undeterred and began a several peaceful gathering at the old arch gates of the university at 8.30 in the morning, also gathering outside the student dormitories at Perumnas 3 Housing Complex in Waena.  Other participants in the days events began a traditional cultural long march around 0920 to the UNCEN office of Lukas Enembe, Indonesia’s appointed Governor in Papua province.

However Police began to confront  and blockade the peaceful protesters at 1040am outside Perumnas 3 to prevent the marches from joining up, and about 15 minutes of shield charges, flying wedge attacks, physical pushing and shoving occurred between students and riot police.  There were no arrests reported, nor significant injuries at his time.

Later, protesters regrouped and attempted to read out statements at the Governor’s office, but police again moved in to prevent the statement criticising Otsus Plus being read in front of the Governors office.  Protesters then finished the  rally outside Perumnas 3, a site of martyrdom for West Papua youth, after several human rights abuses took place there, including the broad daylight extrajudicial assassination of former KNPB leader Mako Tabuni in 2012 by Detachment 88 officers.

At the archway entrance to UNCEN, Gempar coordinators conducted speeches and street theatre, with a creative theatre of West Papuan students, one by one, stamping into the dust and asphalt a copy of the draft Otsus Plus legislation, shouting “Tolak Otsus Gagal!” (“Reject Special Autonomy Plus!”).  This was then symbolically set on fire to finalise its rejection.

Protest coordinator Yason Ngelia said in a speech at Perumnas 3, “we reject Autonomy Plus.  Special autonomy has failed , we must determine our own fate.  The Special Autonomy Plus draft is prepared not from the desire of the people of Papua , but for the Governor and the interests of bureaucrats.  We will keep demonstrating until there is a solution for the fate of Papuans “

The GEMPAR demonstration in its rejection of Otsus Plus demanded three points, namely:

  • that the Government of Jakarta , the Government of Papua and West Papua stop discussion of implementation Special Autonomy Plus;
  • The Government of Papua and West Papua, along with the DPRP and MRP, begin facilitating Public Hearings of the support or rejection of Otsus Plus for all components of Papuan society;
  • A Referendum to be held on whether Papuans want Special Autonomy Plus.

Even during this peaceful reading of the opposition of Papua people to legislation seen as imposed by Jakarta on West Papua,  Police still blockaded the road with large numbers growing to more than 300 police,  4 trucks carrying Dalmas Papua Police from Abepura and one from Jayapura, 3 Brimob police Trucks , 1 Armoured assault vehicle, a water cannon, and two commanders vehicles.   Also in Old Abe Uncen , 2 trucks Dalmas Police from Jayapura Police Station were attending with several dozen police, and a 25 member Dalmas platoon/section at  Expo Waena taxi terminal.

Due to this intimidation and threats of further violence from security forces, organisers cancelled the rally and dispersed just before 2pm local time.

Organisers have vowed to renew their attempts to hold a peaceful demonstration on March 12.

West Papua Media will be monitoring.

WESTPAPUAMEDIA